Written by Dan Salva
Purpose-driven brands are those that have discovered the larger meaning they serve, That meaning is defined through how the brand makes a difference in an individual life, a community, or even the world (or all three!)
These brands range from retail to business-to-business to non-profits. As different as they are, they share a trait that gets unlocked when a brand commits to defining that purpose. They discover powerful storytelling.
The greatest marketing asset
We humans love stories. Not just because they entertain. That’s important, but there’s more. Stories humanize information. Think about the times we have tried to explain a complex subject to someone. To speed understanding, we’ll put the information in some sort of context. We’ll say, “It’s like this…” And then we’ll tell a story. Either a real-life example or something we make up in order to illustrate our point.
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Stories are incredibly powerful in this regard. And, your audience finds them irresistible. You can understand why it is incredibly valuable to embed stories into your marketing.
Purpose unlocks stories
There is nothing more moving than having a drive to make a difference for those around you (a brand purpose). Stories naturally spin off. Stories of your quest. Stories of those who have been inspired to join you. Stories of the difference you’re making.
These are not sales pitches (although they have an incredible power to move business for you). They connect with people in a way that dwarfs any sales pitch or list of features and benefits. They get people to care. And when people care, they have potential to become more than customers. They suddenly have the potential to become your evangelists.
I worked with one medical device business owner who was struggling to elevate his brand above the low-cost providers and slap-dash solution competitors. It would have been very easy just to ask, “So, what makes you different?” We would have gotten to some explanation of why his offering was a few degrees better in this or that regard. Maybe we would have illustrated why his features were better than those other guys. That would have been fine. And may have even resulted in some marginal success. But that wasn’t the question I asked. I asked, “Why do you care.” That one question unleashed a flood of stories.
He told of the incredible difference his company had made in the lives of those they helped. He told stories about people discovering a new lease on life. Stories of relationships restored. It was absolutely captivating. I couldn’t get enough. More importantly, we started to uncover that incredible purpose that drove him (and his brand). That’s what needed to be brought forward. That was the thing that would elevate and propel his business. The stories were there just waiting to be unlocked. They weren’t stories about features and benefits. They were stories about a purpose.
See what I just did there
That was a story (a true one). No matter how much I preach about the importance of purpose and storytelling, nothing illustrates the point like an actual story. It is the most powerful way to impart relevancy and impact.
And it's just a heckuva lot more fun to read than a scientific dissertation on why your brain is more swayed by emotional stories than straightforward rationales (that's actually true.)
Most of all, it just makes sense. We're all humans. We all want to be part of something larger than ourselves. Nothing gets us there quicker than a compelling purpose told through a great story.
Dan Salva is a co-founder of Will & Grail, with more than three decades of experience in brand marketing and developing and implementing go-to-market strategies. He can be reached at email@example.com.